Sunday, December 25, 2005


Today is the first day since 1929 that Christmas and the first night of Chanukah have been on the same day. That works just fine for my little interfaith family. We'll take the opportunity to celebrate--twice.

This is very much a "back to basics" holiday season. Graham (4 1/2) and Lauren (2 3/4) are still young enough to want simple things. Graham asked for more books and more art supplies. Lauren didn't even ask . . . if it's Dora or Hello Kitty, she's overjoyed. We delivered for the little ones in spades, going above and beyond with musical offerings--keyboard, guitar, and small lap harp. Graham won't put the guitar down and that is a very, very good sign. Grandma MaryAnn and Grandpa Ralph delighted Lauren with a Dora blanket . . . the best gift of her day. She's been happily wrapped in pink and purple all day.

On this day of family, of love, of hope, I offer the wish of Peace, of Shalom.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Things Japanese

I just finished reading a trio of (loosely) Japan related books.

First up was David Mas Masumoto's Four Seasons in Five Senses. Masumoto is an organic farmer in California's Central Valley and a terrific writer. The book is a series of essays that chronicle farming as much as living. He celebrates his history, his family, and the hard labor that produces his peaches and raisins. Reading the book is like taking a long walk with an articulate and philosophical friend. He writes lyrically of his Suncrest peaches and I'll be searching for them during peach season.

Ever the mystery fan, I read Sujata Massey's The Typhoon Lover. This is the latest in the Rei Shimura series. The books are fast paced. I enjoy mysteries with female heroines and Shimura is a nice balance of guts, anxiety, determination, and style. I've followed the series from the first book so picking up the sixth was a natural.

Finally, I read Karin Muller's Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa. This is a quick and easy read covering Muller's year off to find herself and a sense of balance and harmony in Japan. It is not a quick and easy process for her. She moves through a series of funny and touching experiences that ultimately give her good insight into the magic of place and a better sense of what she values.

My husband and I spent time studying in Japan as part of our grad school experiences. I still can't get enough of things Japanese.